Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Spider Mites

Spider mites, oh how I despise you! You are killing my cucumbers, attacking my beans and herbs. Go away!

For the past several years the spider mites have been a big issue in my garden. They are tiny little insects that tend to live on the underneath surface of leaves, and they suck moisture from the leaves, slowly starving the plant. 

Here is a bean leaf with minor damage. Notice the tiny light dots. 

Here is a leaf with slightly more damage. Notice more light areas, and the leaf has a dusty or dull appearance.

 Here is the underneath surface of the same leaf. You can see tiny dark specks. Sometimes you can also see fine spider webs.
 This cucumber leaf is severely damaged and will soon dehydrate and die.
The underside is almost white.
Hot dry conditions are what they like. I guess living in Los Angeles makes them happy because they are thriving at my house. 

They do have natural predators but apparently the mites are winning the battle in this urban garden. To combat them I will spray with soap and water every few days. On the other days I'll spray down the vines with water which knocks some of them off, and discourages them because they don't like moist conditions. I have removed the infested leaves too. 

Time will tell if the cucumbers can be saved. 

What tips do you have for combatting these pests?  I hesitate to use Neem oil since it tends to burn my plants in our heat. I need all the help I can get!

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